Splitting Hairs

going deeper

Kick Da Bums Out


After picking my jaw up off the floor around 9pm last night (California time), my brain started thinking about the meaning of this shock.

Some of the detailed post-vote exit data is interesting — e.g. turnout, who was or wasn’t bothered by Trump’s misogyny (and how they voted), the role of eduction level, county-level maps, etc.

But I went to bed thinking about broader, historical meanings. Woke up in the middle of the night (just got back from 10 days in Greece), and watched a video of some historian giving his 2 cents on last night.

I agreed with his take: this election was about kicking da bums out. Specifically, looking at two-term presidents in history (I’m looking at you Obama), who among them has completed his last term and seen his “successor” elected?

Throwing out the period before 1830 (when national politics was just beginning), here’s the list of two term presidents sorted by Yes (their successor won), versus No (no successor or their successor lost) (see List_of_Presidents_of_the_United_States):

  • Yes: Andrew Jackson (1829-37), Ulysses Grant (1869-77), Ronald Reagan (1981-89)
  • No: Woodrow Wilson (1913-21), Dwight Eisenhower (1953-61), Bill Clinton (1993-2001), George W. Bush (2005-09), Barack Obama (2009-17)

I’m counting only two-term presidents who completed their last term, rather than presidents who died in office. This analysis is about the successor, and the “tails” of the outgoing two-termer. When you die in office (or leave like Nixon), the country gets to see your successor as president before he later runs as an incumbent.

Since 1900, the prevailing pattern in America seems to be: kick da bums out!

Of course, the exception is Reagan. Does Bush’s Sr.’s 1988 win say more about Reagan’s tails, or about the weakness of Michael Dukakis?

Methinks the FiveThirtyEight folks need to put this “kick da bums out” mega-trend in their model.

Why did Hillary lose? Was she Michael Dukakis? Or was Obama a weak two-termer, just like almost every other two-termer since 1900?

Maybe it’s a little of both.

At bottom, to me, this election is about a repudiation of Obama (just like with Wilson, Eisenhower, Clinton, and Bush before him).

In that historical light, Trump isn’t so exceptional.

But of course in every other light, he’s beyond exceptional.

The big question now on the morning-after is: “After rejecting Obama, where do we go from here?”

You know I’ll have my thoughts on that one. 🙂

8 comments on “Kick Da Bums Out

  1. Kathy Graham
    November 9, 2016

    You know, maybe I have this backwards.

    I always thought that if Trump was elected, there would be a US civil war. But I think the opposite is true. If Trump had lost, there would have definitely been a civil war. Why? Because the “losers” are moderate thinkers, liberals, they are open-minded, conciliatory, co-operative, etc. I realize this is a stereotype, but I truly believe that rationally-minded people can work with the present government and try to unify a deeply divided country. On the other hand, I do not believe (- here I go with stereotypes again – ), that uneducated irrational rednecks would have been able to work with a Democratic government to unify anything. I believe the exact opposite would have occurred, and would have led to a civil war.

    This doesn’t mean I see it at all rosy for America. In fact, I see it the exact opposite. After the impending financial bubble burst, followed by a consequential economic crisis that will lead to great depression #2, the rednecks who voted for Trump because they believed in his ability to improve the economy, will go ballistic. Everybody will be fighting everybody. There won’t even be sides. Just massive violence, chaos, and military intervention. In this way, I can see California (or west coast) secession occurring.

    I hope for a different scenario. But like you, I do think, after a huge crisis in whatever form it takes, America will be healthy again.


  2. Kathy Graham
    November 9, 2016

    Well, I have spent the last 16 hours feeing completely dejected since Trump was clearly going to be president and was successful in that endeavour. And I’m not even American!

    But then I saw this video:


    and I got to thinking very differently about Trump. I think he’s a great actor and entertainer, and I think he knew that the best way to become president was to go over the top and speak to white middle America in a language that they could understand.

    Do I think he will reverse abortion rights? No. Do I think he will deport Muslims en masse? No. Do I think he will be prejudiced against the LGBTQ community? No. Do I think he’ll tone down all of the bullshit and bullying while in office? Yes.

    I think he’ll be very strong for the American economy regarding China, etc. He likes allies, and Trudeau started on the right foot by congratulating him. I think the Free Trade with Canada might be okay. We’ll see.

    I now think this whole over-the-top crap he has dished out for the past 18 months was a means to an end. 1) Get into power by those who want change. 2) Clean up the act. 3) Then do stuff with his own agenda, even if it differs from his own party (as we have repeatedly seen during the campaign process), i.e. abortion, LGBTQ, etc.

    Whatcha think?


    • peter
      November 9, 2016

      I agree with your take. The circumstance I’m suspecting Trump might fumble is the legal federal vs. state cognitive dissonance about the marijuana laws in the West. When I have a minute, I’ll post a new blog about the forces at play in that dynamic, and why Trump might overstep.


  3. Kathy Graham
    November 10, 2016

    I am convinced that my theory is correct. Read this:


    Trump behaved like an asshole because he knew it was his best shot to get a widespread white rural blue collar vote and get elected. You see him now? Courteous. Obama is a good man. America should be grateful to Hillary for her years of service. He’ll seek Obama’s counsel. Holy cow.

    The next 4 years watching America, will be about the most entertaining and interesting years ever. It’s better than watching movies. I’m staying tuned.


  4. Kathy Graham
    November 16, 2016

    It’s 8 days post-election, and I knew racism was alive and well in America, but I never, never, imagined it could be so prevalent and entrenched within those institutions that govern municipalities, states and now, the nation. I am simply shocked. Could it be this bad in Canada, but because we are so “nice”, no one talks about it? I don’t think so. At least, I hope not.

    I do hope that California secedes. Better sooner than later.


  5. Pingback: I Was Right (Oh My) | Splitting Hairs

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This entry was posted on November 9, 2016 by in politics.



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